Allegations that the FBI and CIA spied on President Trump’s campaign and transition, that the spy might have been paid more than $1 million, a large chunk of it from former President Obama’s own campaign funds, and that the entire Russia investigation could be predicated on wholly made up “facts” in the Fusion GPS dossier are all part of a strategy to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the president and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to several mainstream media outlets.
“It’s not just President Trump and his tweeter anymore,” begins an item on Axios AM, the flagship newsletter of the Washington insider company. “The anti-Robert Mueller chorus is growing slightly larger, and significantly louder, in an effort to discredit the Russia probe and its origin.”
Under the category “Why it matters:” Axios states, “Hour by hour, these voices try to chip away at the case against Trump and the justification for it all.” Polls show it is working, especially among Republicans, Axios laments. “This powerful echo chamber is one of the few parts of Trumpworld that’s perfectly in sync.”
Reporter Jonathan Swan takes readers “inside the sabotage strategy,” where he points out the White House’s legal strategy – keeping down confrontation, accommodating all document and interview requests of the special counsel – has not changed, except for the addition of “top-flight, serious lawyer” Emmet Flood, “who’s going about his business with complete discretion.”
What has changed, they reported, “is the P.R./media strategy. We suddenly see this concerted effort – orchestrated by Trump, and conducted outside of the White House – to smear Mueller, muddy the waters and make the investigation a red vs. blue issue.”
The piece points to a classified briefing set for Thursday on the FBI spy in the Russia probe, which is to include House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes of California, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Ed O’Callaghan of DOJ, as a “key victory for the chorus.”
In its “Be Smart” section, Axios refers readers to David Ignatius’ column in the Washington Post, which says that “Trump is running a circus of distraction. But at the center of the ring remains Mueller, silent and unblinking.”
Time also dismissed any possibility it was improper to embed spies in the Trump campaign. It says his move earlier in the week to call for an investigation into the use of the spy “marks a break with past practices in federal law enforcement.”
The Time report said Trump had three objectives in mind, none of which involved telling the truth to the American people about how he has been investigated.
He could be making the case for firing Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote the memo urging Trump to fire former FBI Director James Comey, then appointed Mueller special counsel to investigate why Trump fired Comey and whether that constituted obstruction of justice, Time wrote.
Or he could be doing all this as a way of “undermining authority of Mueller’s findings.” The investigation already has accomplished quite a lot, Time says. Mueller has indicted 19 people – five are people charged with activities that had nothing to do with the Trump campaign and 13 are Russian individuals and companies Mueller alleges ran troll farms to disseminate false information on U.S. presidential candidates.
But “whenever Muller does present his findings, Trump will have already attempted to sow doubt about the investigation” and “could have a base of political support that’s already been persuaded to view the Mueller investigation with suspicion.”
Finally, Trump seeks to head off impeachment should Democrats retake the House in 2018 and that the “ultimate end game for Trump” is “discrediting the Justice Department” to protect himself “from being removed from office by playing to Republicans.”